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State Yanks List That Sent New Yorkers to Cupcake Shop for Obamacare Help

By Max Willens | October 30, 2013 11:48am | Updated on October 30, 2013 11:52am
 Obama's healthcare exchange has been largely criticized for its technological failures.
Obama's healthcare exchange has been largely criticized for its technological failures.
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DNAinfo/Sonja Sharp

HARLEM — A day after DNAinfo exclusively reported that the state Department of Health was mistakenly sending New Yorkers to cupcake stores, taxi companies and nail salons to sign up for Obamacare, the state has yanked the list.

The state's list of in-person navigators, who were supposed to be in place around the state on Oct. 1 to help New Yorkers confused about the sign-up process, had been hosted on its website starting in September.

When asked by a DNAinfo New York reporter last week why the site listed businesses that had never heard of the navigator program, Jeffrey Hammond, a spokesman for the New York State Department of Health, admitted last week they had put up the wrong list. But he said at the time, “We can't tell you anything more about this.”

The site was yanked off the DOH's website some time before 11:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, replaced by a note: "We are updating the IPAs/Navigators contact list.  New information will be posted shortly."

The debacle is the latest in a long line of headaches for the controversial exchange, which has been hit with a wave of criticism over the rollout of its signup website.

Dozens of New York City businesses listed on the site were completely in the dark about the program when called or visited by a DNAinfo reporter.

"I'm sorry, honey, you have the wrong number. This is a car service. We don't do health here," said a dispatcher at APEX Car & Limo, Inc, at 579 Smith St., which is listed as a navigator site through the nonprofit group Brooklyn Perinatal.